Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame 2016 Ballot

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

Dave Meltzer, editor of the wrestling observer newsletter

Dave Meltzer, editor of the wrestling observer newsletter

It is once again voting season for the yearly Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.  It has been my honor to vote for inclusion in the Hall of Fame for many years now as a historian of professional wrestling.  The Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame is structurally based on the Baseball Hall of Fame.  

While I personally wish some of the criteria were a little different (mainly the young age of 35 being the induction threshold) that's more a matter of personal taste than anything.  The Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame is voted on by many pro wrestling historians, journalists, wrestlers and former wrestlers, and others involved in some way with the pro wrestling business.

Today's article is basically to familiarize you with the ballot and voting process.  Detailed break downs about who I will be voting for will be handled primarily on my DragonKingKarl Classic Wrestling Audio Show hosted at WrestlingObserver.com though I may have some follow up discussion here at When It Was Cool as well.

The Ballot and Rules

The ballot is sent out to major pro wrestling stars, past and present, major management figures in the industry, writers and historians.
Those who receive a ballot are being asked their opinion on who should be inducted into this year's Hall of Fame class.  The criteria for the Hall of Fame is a combination of drawing power, being a great in-ring performer or excelling in ones field in pro wrestling, as well as having historical significance in a positive manner.  A candidate should either have something to offer in all three categories, or be someone so outstanding in one or two of those categories that they deserve inclusion.
The names listed below are those under consideration for this year.  To be eligible, a performer must have reached their 35th birthday and completed ten years since their debut as a full-time performer, or be someone who has been a full-time pro wrestler for at least 15 years.
Longevity should be a prime consideration rather than a hot two or three year run, unless someone is so significant as a trend-setter or a historical figure in the business, or valuable to the industry, that they need to be included.  However, just longevity without being either a long-term main eventer, a top draw and/or a top caliber in-ring performer should be seen as relatively meaningless.
The election is broken down into a number of categories.  Voters should check each category for wrestlers that they feel they are familiar enough with based on geography that they've either traveled or are familiar with, and based on the time they have followed pro wrestling.  They do not have to vote for a wrestler in every category they've checked.
The ballot is also broken down to wrestlers and those who are not pro wrestlers but have been valuable parts of the industry.
The maximum number of wrestlers that voters can vote for in all the categories is ten.  Voters can pick as few as zero if they don't believe anyone on this list deserves inclusion.
For wrestling executives, managers, announcers and other outside the ring performers, voters can vote for them and they are not counted against the ten.  Voters can vote for as many as five of them.
All responses are confidential.  There is nothing to worry about politically about any involvement in this process.  Voters selections will not be revealed unless they choose to do so themselves. (I always make mine public.)
Anyone who receives mention on 60% of the ballots from the geographical region and time frame (broken down as Continental United States & Canada; Mexico; Japan; and the rest of the world) will be added to the Hall of Fame in the class of 2016.
If voters are unfamiliar with any of the candidates due to geography of having never seen them, that is fine.  Ballots are sent to many people from all over the world and from different wrestling cultures so that everyone has as fair a shot at possible.
The breakdown for modern and historical performers is 30 years ago, or 1986.  So if the last year the person was a headliner, or was a key figure in the industry, was prior to 1986, they would be in the historical class.
All performers who receive mention on 10% to 59.9% of the ballots from their geographical region or era will remain on the ballot for consideration next year.  All those who receive less than 10% of the vote will be dropped from next year's ballot.

They can return in two years based on if there is significant feedback from voters who say they will vote for them.  This is mostly for wrestlers who are still active who may improve their career legacy, but can be for retired wrestlers if voters believe they should be put on or returned to the ballot.
In addition, in following the lead of the baseball Hall of Fame, which is the model here, starting this year we have a 15-year-rule.  The following candidates have been on the ballot since 2000.  In baseball, this would be their last year of eligibility.  Here, if they don't get at least 50% of the votes in this year's election they will be removed from the ballot.  If they are modern candidates, they can be brought back in the historical performers era in two years if it is more than 30 years since their career as a Hall Fame level performer is up:
The following candidates will be dropped from next year's ballot unless they are elected in or garner 50% of the vote: 
Cien Caras 
Blue Panther
Seiji Sakaguchi
Villano III
Volk Han

I have voted for Cien Caras in the past and out of this group he is probably the only one I will consider voting for.  However, out of these the only one I will rule out completely is Volk Han.

Wrestling Observer Newsletter HOF ballots must be returned by October 15th.
The Main Ballot
Red Bastien
Brute Bernard & Skull Murphy
June Byers
Domenic DeNucci
Cowboy Bob Ellis
Don Fargo
Pepper Gomez
Archie "Mongolian Stomper" Gouldie
Dick Hutton
Rocky Johnson
Killer Karl Kox
Mark Lewin
Pedro Morales
Blackjack Mulligan
Kinji Shibuya
John Tolos
Enrique Torres
Von Brauners & Saul Weingeroff
Johnny "Mr. Wrestling II" Walker
Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods
Bearcat Wright
Ron Wright

The Mongolian Stomper makes a return on this ballot or perhaps it is his first time.  Archie "Mongolian Stomper" Gouldie passed away since last year and while he was a personal favorite of mine I can not justify including him the hall of fame based on the provided criteria.  

Rocky Johnson (father of Dewayne "The Rock" Johnson) is often a close one for me but probably won't make my ballot without a major run as a world title level challenger.  

Blackjack Mulligan also passed away this year but again he comes up short for me. 

Bearcat Wright is someone I am putting a lot more thought into this year than in the past.  I had underestimated some of his importance before.
Modern Era Performers

Bryan Danielson / Daniel Bryan
Junkyard Dog
Curt Hennig
Randy Orton
C.M. Punk
Sgt. Slaughter
Kerry Von Erich
Ultimate Warrior

Several of these names have been re-added to the ballot over the last few years.  I'm going to put some thought into Daniel Bryan.  While both Junkyard Dog and Kerry Von Erich were as big of regional stars as possible they were both disappointments nationally.

I have voted for Edge in the past and may do so again.  Randy Orton falls into my personal valley of "he's still wrestling and there is still more to his story" so I personally won't consider him right now.

C.M. Punk is an absolute and affirmative "No" on my ballot and sits firmly in my "most over rated of all time" category.

I always vote for Sgt. Slaughter.  To me he is almost a no-brainer but often performs poorly in voting.

Ultimate Warrior is very interesting and I'll certainly speak further about him on my shows.
Japanese Ballot

Jun Akiyama
Yoshiaki Fujiwara
George Gordienko
Volk Han
Masahiko Kimura
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Yuji Nagata
Shinsuke Nakamura
Mike & Ben Sharpe
Minoru Suzuki
Kiyoshi Tamura
Akira Taue


I personally don't consider myself educated enough about Japanese wrestling except for certain years to vote.  I always enjoy listening to the discussion but I prefer not to vote in the Japanese section due to my own ignorance although I have never understood the love for Volk Han as a candidate. 

Mexico Ballot

Brazo de Oro & Brazo de Plata & El Brazo
Cien Caras
Ultimo Guerrero
Karloff Lagarde
Blue Panther
L.A. Park
Huracan Ramirez
El Signo & El Texano & Negro Navarro
Villano III
Dr. Wagner Jr.


There's a lot of good food for thought here and I usually do vote in this section.  I have spent years educating myself on lucha libre and classic lucha libre to the point that I think I have at least a pretty good historic overview of the section.  My personal favorites on this ballot are Cien Caras, L.A. Park, Huracan Ramirez, and the trio of El Signo & El Texano & Negro Navarro. 

Other Countries

Spyros Arion
Johnny Barend
Jim Breaks
Big Daddy
Horst Hoffman
Billy Joyce
Mario Milano
Kendo Nagasaki
Jackie Pallo
Steve Rickard
Rollerball Mark Rocco
Johnny Saint
Ricki Starr
Otto Wanz

I have voted on the UK section of the ballot before and I really favor Kendo Nagasaki and Rollerball Mark Rocco but I honestly can't say I'm educated enough to do so and I have opted in recent years not to vote in this section.

Bill Apter
Lord James Blears
Dave Brown
Jim Crockett Jr.
Jim Crockett Sr.
Gary Hart
Jimmy Hart
Howard Finkel
Ed Francis
Jerry Jarrett
Larry Matysik
Gene Okerlund
Don Owen
George Scott
Stanley Weston

For whatever reason, this is the hardest category to get voted in with even though you can choose these names and not have it count against your total.  I have many favorites on this list including Bill Apter, Jim Crockett Jr., Howard Finkel, and Gene Okerlund.

I will have more on the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame soon.  Please consider supporting our website with a donation of any amount and thank you!